Tuesday 5 June 2012

Lockerbie update

[This is the headline over an article just published on the website of Private Eye.  It reads in part:]

For 19 years prosecutors and investigators kept secret a detailed report about the most important forensic evidence from the debris of Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie – a fragment of timing device circuit board – which completely undermined their own case against Abdelbasset al-Megrahi.

That such crucial material, obtained by the Eye, was never disclosed before the Libyan was convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity on UK soil, should in itself be sufficient grounds for a public inquiry. Added to the wealth of evidence concealed from his trial, the deeply flawed identification evidence “linking” Megrahi to the bombing, the use of a discredited Walter Mitty-type CIA informer as a “star witness”, and the fact that other material in the case is still secret, protected by “public interest immunity”, the stench of a cover-up becomes overwhelming.

A significant lead
The 11-page report details the forensic analysis of the circuit board. It reveals that police and experts were aware, relatively early in the investigation, that there was something “very unusual” about the board. They had found that tracks on it were coated with pure tin, whereas the vast majority in manufacture have a tin/lead mix. This was a significant lead.

“Without exception it is the view of all experts involved in the PCB [printed circuit board] industry who have assisted with this enquiry that the tin application on the tracks of the circuit was by far the most interesting feature,” said the police report.

Scandalously this was never revealed at Megrahi’s trial and not disclosed to his defence lawyers until 2009 – a month before he was freed from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds to return to Libya where he recently died. The Crown’s case against Megrahi regarding the circuit board was always the opposite: namely, that the fragment was identical to circuit boards used in timers that were supplied to Libya by a Swiss company, Mebo. But these were not remotely “unusual” as they had the common tin/lead mix.

Buried evidence
Earlier this year writer and researcher John Ashton, in his book Megrahi: You are my Jury, revealed how government forensic scientist Allen Feraday, who had told the trial that the circuit fragment was “similar in all respects” to the Mebo devices, had in fact overseen tests on the fragment and a control sample circuit board (revealed in recently disclosed notebooks) which pointed up the differences between the two. As this new document shows, the significance of such findings was known more widely. This raises serious questions about why the evidence remained buried for years and who exactly knew the Mebo timers were different.

The piece of board was found among parts of a man’s shirt recovered from the crash site. The shirt was in turn traced to Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who put Megrahi in the frame three years after the bombing, saying he resembled the man who had bought the clothing. (As longstanding Eye readers will know, Megrahi bore no resemblance to the man first described by Gauci, and it later emerged that the shopkeeper and his brother had been handsomely “rewarded” by the FBI.)

Hallmarks of a Syrian-backed Palestinian cell
The new material and the doubts about the veracity of the Gauci evidence undermine the two main pillars of Megrahi’s conviction. And while the Libyans were not averse to state-sponsored terrorism at the time of the bombing in 1988, it remains the case – as the late Paul Foot pointed out in the Eye’s special report, Lockerbie: The Flight from Justice, in 2001 – that the attack bore the hallmarks of a Syrian-backed Palestinian terrorist cell which had been caught red-handed with devices equipped to bring down planes.

The excuse given for not holding a public inquiry into Megrahi’s conviction is that the criminal investigation is continuing. So far investigators only seem to have travelled to Libya – no doubt to see if they can obtain new evidence that might somehow prop up the crumbling conviction.


  1. Unfortunately, ever since Private Eye published Paul Foot’s flight of fancy, they, like the politicians they mock, have been unable to do a U-turn and re-examine the facts.

    And why the presumption that it must be a bomb or that someone would want to put a bomb on a plane anonymously?

    Most accidents are caused by structural fault or pilot error.

    And it would be easier to leave a bomb in a crowded foyer or anywhere else and still be guaranteed high casualty figures and media coverage irrespective of how many killed.

    Blaming a bomb was a diversion, and a good catch all was to unofficially blame a ‘Syrian backed Palestinian group funded by Iran’, but Libya was then considered a more defenceless scapegoat.

    The latest revelations about Megrahi’s conviction expose the lies of the prosecution.

    But from the beginning they had no case, because a thumb nail bit of circuit board, with a clear identification number on it, and identifiable clothing that had been ‘wrapped around the bomb’ would not have survived the explosion.

    And this elementary point was never used by the defence!

    And yet now we get comments, encouraged by the CIA, that if not Libya then someone else, rather than something else!

    The truth is closer to home and this is why there has never been a Public Inquiry.

    Instead we get a bogus ‘one man and a dog’ criminal investigation that refuses to look at the evidence.

  2. Yeah, right. Only - Paul Foot's articles were firmly based on the Zeist evidence. They represented a significant U-turn from his previous position supporting the Frankfurt bag-switch theory.

    Yeah, right. Only, repeated tests with IEDs built to resemble the proposed Lockerbie device have shown that burned rags of clothes and fragments of circuit board do survive, exactly as claimed. If you're talking about Wyatt, he was wrong. He's got form in being wrong, too.

    And if you're talking about the fragment of circuit board that was supposed to have come from a timer, it didn't have any "clear identification number" on it.

    Are you a devotee of John Barry Smith? Or John Parkes? Or the fruitcake who goes on about "flechettes"? The trouble with these flights of fancy is that nobody has ever constructed a feasible narrative that explains how so much allegedly fabricated evidence was found by so many diverse people so soon after the crash. Especially if the crash was an accident nobody was expecting.

    You come on here posting cryptic innuendo, as if you imagine nobody here has looked at the theory that has caught your fancy. We have. It doesn't fly.

  3. Rolfe, you say Paul Foot's flight of fancy was based on the Zeist show trial evidence! Doesn't this make it suspect?

    You say he changed his mind on the ‘Frankfurt bag-switch theory’, but how would he know for sure how the ‘bomb’ was put on board?

    Extremely unlikely, but even if your right and clothing and a circuit board could survive a ‘bomb’ that destroyed a Boeing 747 in 3 seconds, they would not be identifiable.

    And I thought the circuit board was a fabrication!

    What do you mean a lot of evidence! Are you referring to the burnt shirt and fabricated circuit board?

    Whereas the AAIB report doesn't refer to a bomb. See website Boeing 747 pan Am 103 not brought down by bomb explanation.

    I use my common-sense, but I understand that people who have lived this issue, do develop entrenched views.

    But after all these years, don’t rely on direction from the CIA, but think afresh and cross examine the AAIB.

  4. Rolfe, you say “Paul Foot’s articles were firmly based on the Zeist evidence”. And this makes them reliable?

    You say he did a U-turn about who did it. Yes and others should consider doing a U-turn about what caused it.

    You say “tests with IEDs have shown that burned rags of clothes and fragments of circuit board (CB) do survive”!

    Why not say bombs? - and do these burned rags and CB fragments, that survive an explosion that destroys a Boeing 747 in 3 seconds, remain identifiable?

    And we’re talking rags here, because the bit of CB was fabricated. It was not tested for and did not have any explosive residue on it.

    I can understand it’s difficult for people who have lived this issue with a particular view for years, to think again.

    But if it’s OK to question Ministers, why not cross examine the AAIB too?

    And take a look at the Lockerbie No Bomb website.

  5. Yawn. Nothing that you hint at is new. Bear in mind that people who have lived with this conundrum for a long time have already looked at all the alternative suggestions, and the ones you seem to be promoting don't stand up to scrutiny.

    Instead of cryptically telling people to "look again" at stuff they have already looked at and rejected, you'll have to start explaining why you think it's of any significance.